Food safety monitoring of the pesticide phenthoate using a smartphone-assisted paper-based sensor with bimetallic Cu@Ag core–shell nanoparticles†
Presently, the use of several pesticides has been continuously rising owing to the increase in the production of food materials to meet the requirements of the growing population of the world. The safety of food materials with regards to pesticides is an important health concern for people. With this aim, we have developed a smartphone-assisted paper-based sensor impregnated with citrate capped Cu@Ag core–shell nanoparticles (NPs) for selective determination of phenthoate pesticides in water and food samples. The mechanism for selective detection is based on the high affinity of phenthoate to interact with silver NPs present on the surface of CuNPs, which results in aggregation and a change in the color of the paper device. Furthermore, the proposed mechanism and interaction of phenthoate with Cu@Ag NPs was theoretically investigated by density functional theory (DFT) using Gaussian 16.0 software. The linear range for the determination of phenthoate was found in the range of 50–1500 μg L−1, with a limit of detection of 15 μg L−1, and a 92.6 to 97.4% recovery, and the interference studies demonstrated the selectivity for the determination of the target analyte from complex sample matrices. Finally, paper impregnated with Cu@Ag was exploited for the monitoring of the phenthoate pesticide in different water and food samples. The advantages of this paper-based sensor, coupled with a smartphone readout system, are that is it is user-friendly, easy-to-use, cost-effective, and can be applied at the sample source compared to sophisticated analytical instruments.